New York City granted 'nyc.' top level domain by ICANN; Mayor Michael Bloomberg announces Internet first.

Mark Leiser: I am a PhD Candidate in Cyber Law at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. I have written submissions for the Leveson Inquiry into the culture and ethics of the media and for the Scottish Parliament on the use of social media during trials. My PhD is supervised by Professor Andrew Murray at the London School of Economics and focuses on the effectiveness of cyber-regulation. My research and interests revolve around main areas of Internet law and policy including internet governance & regulation, democracy, social media, privacy, and intellectual property. My PhD research focuses on developing a system of modelling to measure the effectiveness and legitimacy of Internet Regulation. I write in a personal capacity.

ICANN, the organization tasked with implementing and controlling the Internet's domain name addressing system, has formally approved ".nyc", New York mayor Michael Bloomberg announced. This makes the metropolis one of the first geographical locations to be granted the precious geographical "top level domain" and opens the door for the city's businesses and entrepreneurs to sell second level domain names like "" and "".

ICANN is the organization tasked with implementing the domain name system

ICANN is a California based non-profit corporation tasked with implementing and overseeing the Internet's domain name system. The organization originally limited the types of generic top level domains (gTLD) to 22 like ".com" and ".net". However, as the words that make up the crux of the addressing system like, "amazon" and "google" ran out, and more people and businesses have ventured into cyberspace, the choices for domain names have become few and far between. The change has brought about to increase competition among registrars and to change the way we do business and search on the Internet and to resolve the demand for localization on the Internet.

The move to expanding the GTLD system is controversial. Business and trademark owners, in particular, have expressed concern about how their they will go about protecting registered trademarks in cyberspace. Claiming ownership of would be easy enough for the sporting goods company, but now the trademark could theoretically be sold by every single registrar that has been licensed by ICANN to administer the new gTLDs. Others question whether or not the localization program is at all necessary. A citizen of London travelling on a train to Glasgow searching for a seafood restaurant already receive specialized search and geographically-based returns.

Proponents of the expansion claim that search and business will be reinvigorated by the localization strategy. For example, residents and visitors would be able to find local recommendations and services, rather than relying on search engines to make guesses about your location with tailored responses to search queries. Secondly, the initial offering would allow for a second domain name grab for those businesses who missed out on purchasing lucrative, generic domain names the first time around. The hope is that substantial value will vest in the owners of domain names like "" or "".

Opponents of the expansion usually fall into three camps: trademark owners, governments, and civil society. Trademark owners, who have just gotten to grasp with cyber-squatters (those who buy domain names linked to or resembling a trademarked item with the hope to profit from it) will already are expressing grave concerns about how trademarked items can be protected under a 500+ gTLD system. Previously, it was relatively easy to for rights owners to protect their trademark. NIKE could ensure ownership of the domain name by purchasing If there was a disagreement about ownership, mechanisms were in place to resolve the complaints - otherwise it was first-come-first-serve, reminiscent of the land grabs of the 1800s. IN other words, if you could register a domain name and it didn't conflict with the rules, it was yours.

Under the new expansion program, the situation just got a lot more tedious. Trademarks will have to be protected at every single variation of the new gTLD. Instead of NIKE just having to worry about who owns, after the expansion they'll have to worry about who registered "", "nike.clothes", and "nike.sports". Furthermore, governments who have lodged objections about ".sex" and ".muslim". And then there is the uneasy tension between civil society, governments, and big business. Both agree that large corporations have no inherent right to own generic words and have expressed concerns about the expansion of the new gTLDs like ".amazon" which has a completely different cultural relevance to the Brazilians and Peruvians than here in the west.

The expansion has also been criticised for its cost. Each applicant had to lodge a non-refundable fee with ICANN for $185,000. ICANN keeps the money even if the applicant wasn't successful, and with any excess, the organization will decide how best to be spent.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.